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Beach boxes exposed to the sea at Mount Martha North [CREDIT: EDDIE JIM]

Australia - Mornington beach and its beach boxes cannot be saved, government concedes

The state government has given up hope of trying to save a popular Mornington Peninsula beach and along with it, dozens of bathing boxes.

The sand on Mount Martha North Beach is disappearing with water sometimes even lapping beneath the floors of the colourful wooden boxes.

But rather than continuing to top-up the sand through “renourishment” or building an artificial reef to contain the sediment, the government has conceded saving the beach is a lost cause.

A new report commissioned by the state government paints a dire picture for the sandy stretch, which is prone to closure during winter.

The instability of the cliff face, erosion and encroaching water are among the major threats to the beach.

The report canvassed several options, including building offshore reefs and multiple rock walls and continued beach renourishment to keep the beach open year-round.

But Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio conceded little could be done to stop the march of erosion into the future.

“The report shows that none of the options available would restore sand or prevent erosion long-term along the entirety of the beach,” she said. “Our priority is community safety – we will continue to monitor cliff movement at Mount Martha North Beach to ensure that it’s safe.”

However, she insisted the government had no plans to remove beach boxes at Mount Martha North, despite a recent report by consultants Water Technology casting doubt over the future of the boxes.

It said if they remained, the foundations needed to be reinforced, in contradiction with Environment Department policy.

Victorian Energy and Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio.CREDIT:HAYLEY MILLS/LATROBE VALLEY EXPRESS

“Public access might have to be restricted to Mount Martha North Beach during winter to protect beach users from hazardous beach boxes, uneven ground, inundation and wave energy.”

The consultants also cited a survey that found respondents wanted to be able to walk between the north and south beaches of Mount Martha, which could require the removal of the beach boxes.

“To enable this activity to continue into the future as sea levels rise, the future location of the beach boxes will need to be assessed as they will restrict pedestrian access along the beach.”

Mount Martha North Beach chairman Alan Farquhar said the beach had about 100 bathing boxes, some of which had recently sold for up to $70,000.

He said his group would continue fighting for government action to preserve the beach.

“This is something we’re not going to take very kindly,” he said.

Mr Farquhar urged the government to reconsider other options such as a rock wall.

He said it would be a tragedy to lose the bathing boxes. However, he said much of the cliff face behind them had been eaten away.

Mornington Peninsula Beach Box Association president Chris Maine said he was alarmed by the prospect that no further action would be taken to save the beach.

He conceded the financial worth of the beach boxes had fallen. “But the value is not the most important thing by a long shot,” he said. “They’re not seen as an investment. They’re there as a summer facility."

The Water Technology report suggests the beach only be used during the summer.

“Mount Martha North Beach should potentially be considered only as a high amenity summer beach rather than an all year-round beach, or alternatively, an ongoing commitment to regular beach nourishment is required if a winter beach is considered highly desirable,” it said.

See The Age article . . .

See also A shore thing as prices plummet for beach boxes battered by erosion